Over and Through

I know.  I know.  I think too much.   That’s just the way it is.

“Aren’t you over that whole burned leg thing?” was the question and of course I nodded and said, “Well yeah.”  I had explored, questioned, delved, dissected and practically fried the whole topic.  This I knew.  But over it?  How can you get over things that are a part of you?  What if I didn’t want to get ‘over it’?  What if I what might seem a devastating experience actually was something I realized had positively shaped my life?

These questions swirled around like noodles in a boiling pan, like so many other thoughts I have.  They arrive simply.  Or they simply arrive.  And then they secure their place in the brain’s parking lot, coming out from time to time when prompted or when another thought crashes into them, upend them or taps them aside the head.  It’s a lot to manage.

I started yoga at the beach about a year ago.  On Saturday morning, I grabbed my pink rubbery mat and walked the sandy shore to the community center, dipping my feet in the water to gauge the temperature.  It seemed eminently swim-able.  Our yoga teacher opened the class with a laugh.  She likes to talk about smiling meditation.  That is, smiling as you do whatever it is you do.  “The heat has been intense all week and everyone has been telling me they are so over it,” she began.  “Well, you know, we never get over things but we sure get through them.  There is a difference.”

I was laying on my back on the mat.  Her comments collided with the dormant thought in my brain.  It woke me up with a jolt.  “Over, she’s talking about that concept,” my brain  spoke to me.  It was just past 9:30 a.m. and I wasn’t ready to dissect anything.

“People place too much emphasis on getting over things,” she laughed.  “We never need to do that.  Just get through them, like the heat this week and everything is alright.  We tend to make ourselves work harder than we have to.”

The class began.  Over.  Through.  Over.  Through.

It made a lot of sense.  I don’t need to get over the experience.  I got through it and grew because of it.

The thought in my head started its engine and drove out of the parking lot in my brain.  There was now room for something else.

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Where Does Memory Come From?

My heart skipped an extra beat when I was talking to my sister Susie this holiday to wish her season’s greetings.  At the same time, I was thinking how to finesse a segue to her memories of the day I burned my leg, which I realized was probably impossible to do so subtly.  And so I just asked, “On another note, Susie I have this memory of you telling me that you smelled me burning and told mom to go upstairs and check on me.  Is that at all accurate?”  Susie, the consummate Ph.D. in psychology, paused as she would normally do to process the question and her response.  “I have to tell you Annie,” she said and hesitated a bit.  “I don’t remember a thing about that day.”  My mind swirled.  How could that be?  The story I long remembered was that she and I were playing downstairs in the basement.  Mom was with us just feet away, ironing and talking on the phone.  I saw that image clear as day.  How could Susie, who was a whole 18 months older than me, not have any recollection? 

“How old would I have been then,” she asked. 

“You would have been 3 and a half.  I was just a couple weeks shy of two.”

“Well, I guess that’s why I don’t remember anything.  I was so young.  I’m sorry.  Tell me what you remember.”  And so I did, my memory being much more vivid than what she knew or recalled, even though I know she was there with me that day.

Where exactly does memory come from?  How can we recollect something so clearly that someone else hasn’t registered?  It’s one of those mysteries that has to be accepted and is absolutely befuddling.  I so wanted confirmation of my memory and at the same time, know that when you embark on a journey to uncover the past, you simply have to accept whatever it is that you find.